Trying times call for real leaders. Sometimes, the realest ones are make-believe. Here's a look at fictional U.S. presidents from TV, movies and even comic books, who we wish we could vote for in real life.
He's an independent who gives it to both sides of the aisle, making the important calls based on his own thinking instead of following a party. Plus, when he's got a conspiring ambassador in his grasp or a world leader overstepping his or her bounds on the sat phone, he isn't afraid to call them a "son of a bitch" and show 'em what it's like to mess with the greatest country in the world. USA! USA! USA!
In this satire of the George W. Bush era, President Staton signs on to judge a TV talent show. It's a move that's a decided upgrade over invading a sovereign nation on trumped-up weapons charges.
In this 2005-'06 TV series, Allen is thrust into the Oval Office as the first female U.S. president. It's an uneasy transition, but she grits through it. In the end, she was defeated only by poor Nielsen ratings.
Sure, President Benjamin Asher is a hostage through much of this 2013 action-thriller, but he's a brave, noble hostage. Plus, it's not his fault he needs saving again in the 2016 sequel, London Has Fallen.
Mackenzie is a chill dude with a self-deprecating sense of humor. It doesn't hurt that he's played by Michael Keaton, who likewise seems chill, and unconcerned that this 2004 movie is actually a Katie Holmes vehicle.
In this 2015 comic-book miniseries (an update of the 1970s comic with the same name), Ross is a fast-food employee who becomes the first teenage president of the United States. Vulture.com praised her as "an intelligent person who wants to do the right thing."
Sela Ward says her character in this Independence Day sequel is "strong, decisive and not afraid to kick ass." In other words, Lanford is the just the sort you'd want in charge when space aliens come re-invading.
Sawyer is counted out more times than a dazed boxer in this 2013 action-thriller about a coup. He gets up off the mat every time (with the help of Channing Tatum's cop), and never loses his focus -- or principles.
Taylor isn't perfect, far from it. But Jack Bauer's boss in 24's seventh and eighth seasons owns up to her missteps, even (spoiler) eventually tendering her resignation. That's accountability.
We can't compile a list of fictional U.S. presidents without including at least one played by Ronny Cox. (He's played an Oval Office occupant in four movies.) We single out Cox's Murder at 1600 executive for showing plain decency in the face of a cheesy plot.
Are we partial to Moore because he's portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson? Yes, we are. But we also love that this commander-in-chief finds his action-hero self in the thick of a Finnish forest. If he can make it out of there, he can make it out of anywhere.
In this 1977 TV sketch, Pryor's White House occupant is a measured leader who keeps it real when it comes to black quarterbacks, the Black Panther party and interracial romances.
State of Affairs may have lasted only a season, but it let us have a world where Alfre Woodard played the president and we did not hate it at all. She was as tough as any TV president we've seen before, but she also brought a unique perspective to the job that's pretty rare -- and one we honestly could use in the White House right now.
When his aircraft is hijacked with himself and his family aboard, Marshall literally swings into action in this 1997 film that set the standard for presidential heroics.
President Schwarzenegger, the Simpsons universe tells us in this 2007 film, was "elected to lead, not to read." We admire his ability to streamline the chief executive's job -- and create a great catchphrase while he's at it.
President Grant--or, just plain Fitz to on-again, off-again paramour Olivia Pope--is not on this list because we think he'd make the best leader there ever was. He's here because we think he'd be the hottest leader there ever was. If that's wrong, we don't want to be right.
If hellfire ever rains down on us from outer space, may our commander-in-chief be armed with a speech as inspiring as the one delivered by Whitmore in the final act of this 1996 disaster epic.
President Marsdin wasn't afraid to fight for justice when it came to American citizens, be they human or alien. She was a strong leader with a overwhelming message of acceptance -- and really, who cares if she was actually an alien in disguise?
In this classic Cold War tragedy, the leader of the free world shows supreme leadership (and Fonda's trademark evenness) when he makes the call to nuke New York City in order to avoid all-out war with the then-Soviet Union.
As the title of this TV comedy suggests, Meyer is supposed to be the political version of a back-up singer. But a Season 3 plot twist puts her front and center. Meyer's hold on the presidency is tenuous, but she's firmly and refreshingly human.
A candidate when we meet him in the series' pilot, Palmer is literally under fire from day one. He keeps his cool and his decency, right up until the day he's (spoiler) assassinated in Season 5. Jack Bauer never had it better, and neither did 24 viewers.
This popular, two-term TV president came out of retirement in 2008 (via a New York Times column) to offer counsel to then-Democratic nominee Barack Obama. It was good advice, and as such, was exactly what you'd expect from Bartlet.
We didn't get a lot of time with Patti Levin as president in The Leftovers. In fact she only showed up in Kevin's fantasies about being a secret agent. But hello, it's still Ann Dowd and she's a no bulls--t superstar who isn't here to mess around. We'd pay you $20 to try and say she was too emotional for the job and enjoy watching you get punched in the face.
If the world as we know it has to end (stupid comet!), then we'd like to have President Tom Beck narrate our planet's demise with his reassuring tone (and, of course, Morgan Freeman's voice).
Before Aaron Sorkin wrote for President Bartlet, he wrote for President Shepherd, and in the process gave us the type of smart, bold press conference we wish a president would give in the face of disingenuous opposition.
Yes, literally Lucifer. Sure, he may have been the actual devil, but he had a clear message of unity, didn't seem to care one way or another about poll numbers and realized that religious fanaticism had no place in the White House.
Finally stepping out of her ex-husband's shadow, Mellie put her time in office to good use advocating for social platforms such as equal rights for women and helped bring down the murderous secret government agency B613. She may have gotten her hands dirty a few times but Washington, D.C. has never seen smarter, more capable or badass Commander in Chief.